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Happy Halloween!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 31, 2009 in Student Government

Don’t give up hope dear readers — I promise promise promise I’ll return to something law-related at some point in the near-term future! :)

Haunted Hillsborough Hike 2K9.  The crowd was like this for blocks. Craziness.

Haunted Hillsborough Hike 2K9. The crowd was like this for blocks. Craziness.

I’m currently in Raleigh for the 3rd annual Haunted Hillsborough Hike, an event created by the N.C. State Student Government during my 1st term as Student Senate President to both help Hillsborough Street vendors and provide an alternative to folks who didn’t want to trek to Chapel Hill for its festivities on Franklin Street.

For this to go from something that didn’t even exist a few years ago to one of the largest events in Raleigh, and knowing my folks created it… I feel more than a little obligated to be here (and it’s an excuse to drink with friends :angel: )

Hope all of you are enjoying yourselves, and law:/dev/null will return to something vaguely resembling regular posts in the near-term future :D

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Friday (Non)Drive-by #6

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 30, 2009 in Friday Drive-by

One of tonight's poker hands: the table wins with a straight flush

One of tonight's poker hands: the table wins with a straight flush

No Drive-by this week — I just got back earlier this afternoon from my trip out west (stopping in at Winston-Salem State University‘s Homecoming on my way back from WCU).

Then I headed over to the N.C. Central School of Law to grab my books for the weekend, then came home to host some friends and fellow 1Ls at my bi-weekly poker night.

And I’m currently not losing money, so I’m staying focused to make sure that trend continues ;)

Have a great night folks! :D

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Greetings from the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 29, 2009 in Randomness

Nothing law-related for the next few days — I’m taking a couple days to travel the state in my role as President of the UNC Association of Student Governments.

After class yesterday I headed out to the N.C. State Student Senate meeting where my successors hosted Senator Tony Rand (one of the 4 most powerful politicians in North Carolina), then drove out to Winston-Salem to meet with Student Body President Daryl Wade at the UNC School of the Arts before heading deep into the mountains of Appalachia to Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.  Then this afternoon I backtracked to UNC Asheville to meet with some of their SG folks, and now currently heading back to Cullowhee for some Homecoming festivities (concert tonight featuring Lyfe Jennings and Fabolous).

One of the rock slides that shut down the Parkway

One of the rock slides that shut down the Parkway

So I decided to take the scenic route through the Blue Ridge Parkway :D

I’ve only been on the Parkway once in my life before now, last October when the UNC Board of Governors had its monthly meeting at Western Carolina. Some UNCASG folks and I took the Parkway from Cullowhee to Asheville, but the experience was a little spoiled by rainy, cold weather. It did make for some awesome video when I was parked at the Graveyard Fields and watched a cloud roll in, but I wanted to get back in the dry warmth of the car.

Today is absolutely gorgeous by contrast — sunny weather and in the mid-70s.

Rock slides have been a problem in the past week though because of all the rain out west (e.g. rock slide shuts down Interstate 40 this past Sunday), and the Parkway is shut down about 6 miles in because of rock slides there as well.  Take a look at the yellow pavement markings in the photo I took; this one slide alone shut down an entire lane of traffic.

The fun part though is that since the Parkway is closed to cars, I can walk around on foot and it’s absolutely surreal / beautiful / amazing.  No sound but rustling tree leaves. No lights but the sun. No humans more than a mile up from where it’s closed to cars. It’s great :)

BB9630 camera shot of the Wash Creek Valley Overlook

BB9630 camera shot of the Wash Creek Valley Overlook

The crazy thing is that I also have 4 of 5 bars of cell phone reception and full EV-DO capability on Verizon — enabling me to tether my BlackBerry and post this entry from my laptop despite being nowhere near any civilization of any kind. (I’m guessing VZW convinced the Department of the Interior to let them install a cell tower higher up the mountain?)

Wish I had some other folks here to enjoy this experience with me… and also wish I had a higher resolution camera :beatup:

But it’s still an amazing experience.  If you’ve never made it out to the mountains, definitely add it to your life’s To Do list :D

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Midterm postmortem

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 28, 2009 in NotFail

Given the lengthy class schedule on Wednesdays, blogging on law:/dev/null usually takes a back seat to reading for LRA, CivPro, Property and Torts — hence the birth of Tweet-sized Tuesdays.  But Property was canceled yesterday so the Traveling Professor could evaluate some of the lower-ranking faculty members, giving me an extra hour and 15 minutes to give y’all something more than 140 characters to read…

…which instead morphed into an opportunity to watch a L&O:SVU marathon instead of blogging :D  So you’re getting yesterday’s post today :beatup:

Since the last two midterm grades got returned to 1Ls on Monday, several of my former colleagues at NCSU and a couple fellow 1L blawgers wanted a quick rundown on how things went.

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TDOT’S STANDARDS OF GRADE REVIEW
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But before getting into those results, I figured I should clue y’all in on the 3 basic standards I’m using for evaluating my grades in law school — which in turn determine how much stress I’m willing to tolerate in getting future grades ;)

  • The Nan Standard: This is the highest standard, applied by a minority of jurisdictions — namely my grandparents. Nan & Pops remember that I actually used to be a good student back in elementary / middle / high school, so they expect nothing less than perfection in law school.  Getting a B is unacceptable when you could get an A — and getting an A is unacceptable when you could get an A+.
  • The Teachers-Who-Know-TDot Standard: This is the opposite of the Nan Standard, applied by the (predominantly Computer Science) faculty who helped push me across the undergraduate finish line. While a few may have convinced themselves I’m a good student, these folks are realists — they’re happy as long as my grades are high enough for me to graduate.
  • The TDot Standard: The TDot Standard is a hybrid applied by the only jurisdiction that matters (me). Setting C- as a minimum and striving for an A+, this is an expectations-based standard — any grade in between the floor and ceiling is acceptable, as long as I’m fairly certain my grade is going to be around that range when I leave a test ;)

So keeping these standards in mind, how did midterms turn out? The professors are happy, the grandparents aren’t, and despite performing marginally better than I expected I’m kicking myself for missing easy points.

On to the actual classes…

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LEGAL REASONING & ANALYSIS
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Even though we didn’t have an exam in LRA, I didn’t want you loyal readers to feel cheated by me leaving out any mention of the class I loathe the most. LRA is the single most-useless class offered at the N.C. Central University School of Law, in large measure because the grading is gratuitously arbitrary and the concepts taught are of minimal utility. Every single 2L and 3L I’ve talked to has said essentially the same thing — they hated LRA, it was their worst grade in 1L year, LRP will be much better next semester, etc.

At least I know I’ll be in good company, because my grades in LRA thus far are all over the map.  LRA grades aren’t exam-based; instead, 5 assignments worth 10% each occur at roughly 1.5 week intervals, and the remaining 50% is based on drafting a legal memorandum at the end of the semester. So I’ve gone from a B one week to a D the next, on assignments that aren’t so substantially different as to merit the huge grade swings.

Grades thus far: A-, B+, D, B-, D+
Current average: C+ (raw)

Synopsis: I’ve pretty much given up hope in this class, though crossing my fingers there will be a curve of some kind. I just want to get this legal memorandum assigned so I can finish it, wash my hands of this class, and focus on the other courses.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE I
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CivPro was the first midterm in the series, and the night before the test Madame Prosecutor was kind enough to smack me upside the head with the sheer breadth of stuff I still didn’t know.  Between arguing with her and going through flashcards with Q.T. for a couple hours, the post-exam expectations ranged from supreme confidence that I knocked it out of the park to abject horror that I failed.

Luckily the former expectation was more accurate. I was 7 for 7 on the multiple choice questions and did fairly well on the essay — an analysis of supplemental jurisdiction, pendant claims, and (what I thought was a minor point) a couple motions to dismiss. I lost a boatload of points for not distinguishing the types of motions (12(b)(1) on lack of subject matter jurisdiction versus a 12(b)(6) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted), which led to bleeding more points throughout the essay in various sections.  But I wasn’t alone: the class average was 4.3 out of 7 multiple choice questions, and 4.9 from 13 points on the essay.

Expected grade: B+
Actual grade: C (raw), A (curved)

Synopsis: I love this class. It’s not easy, but it’s cool and the debates about jurisdiction have been engaging. Hoping I can keep up for the last 5 weeks.

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CONTRACTS I
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Contracts is our only class on Thursdays, so naturally it was our only Thursday midterm. Although I’ve kept up with the readings and felt like I understood the material, I had a sinking feeling when I left that I botched the test. How did I know? We’re allowed to use our supplement containing the UCC on the midterm, and I spent far more time than I should have reading through it (to the point where I almost ran out of time on the essay).

My misgivings were right, but for the wrong reasons. Turns out I only got 7 of the 10 multiples — but the multiples I missed were the first 3 (aka the easiest ones). In reviewing them in class yesterday, I misread the answer I picked for Question #1… and the answer you provide on Q1 was the basis for the answers on Q2 and Q3. So I basically gave away 15 raw points for not paying enough attention.

Expected grade: C
Actual grade: C- (raw), B (curved)

Synopsis: Need to work harder here. I wouldn’t care as much if I had fumbled the harder multiple choice questions, but knowing I gave away the equivalent of a full letter grade on a totally incompetent mistake really frosts my Wheaties…

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TORTS I
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After CivPro, Torts is my 2nd favorite class so far. We had midterms here and in Property on the same day and there was a lot of material to study, but Torts seems particularly well-suited to studying via flashcards (intentional torts, elements, defenses, etc).

Percentage and trendline of Torts midterm grades

Percentage and trendline of Torts midterm grades

I knew this stuff backwards and forwards.

But then I made a rookie mistake of not watching the clock during the midterm, running out of time before I touched 2/3 of the essay (which was worth 50% of the grade)… and that 2/3 happened to have more points per element than the 1/3 I covered.

Sure enough, this was by far my most dismal grade and the overwhelming bulk of points lost were on the essay. I consider it a blessing that Professor Torts gave me the grade she did.

Expected grade: D-
Actual grade: C+ (multiples raw + essay curved)

Synopsis: The clock is my enemy in this class. Hopefully with the 3 hours we’re given for the final everything will be fine.

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PROPERTY I
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This was our last midterm for the week, and we were given a last-minute surprise — no multiple choice questions. Turns out a professor in another section had accidentally posted the exam multiples on TWEN instead of the set of practice multiples they intended, so to keep things fair 100% of the midterm grade was on the essay results.

And it just so happened the essay topic was on adverse possession, the one area I had studied incessantly to make sure I got it right. After leaving the midterm I knew I had destroyed it so thoroughly that I was worried the essay would file suit for conversion :D

I snagged the A that I wanted, and was given the unexpected bonus of having one of the top 3 “model” responses in the section. w00t.

Expected grade: A
Actual grade: A (and in Top 3)

Synopsis: If I can keep track of all the defeasible estates terminology we’re going through now, I should be able to totally dominate the final.

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Current GPA so far through midterms: 3.07

About 5 weeks to go until finals, and a lot more work to do until then. We’ll see how it goes :)

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #9

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 27, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

PT went well today but another bad grade in LRA killed my buzz. Did well in Ks midterm — should have done better. Exam postmortem tomorrow.

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It’s @#$%ing cold outside…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 26, 2009 in Randomness

I despise fall weather. The only thing I despise more than fall weather is winter weather.

If I wanted to live in the cold, I wouldn’t be living in the South.

It’s officially @#$%ing cold. And it sucks.

That is all.

:*

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“No officer, I’m not on scholarship…”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 25, 2009 in The 1L Life

In a few previous posts like this one I mentioned to y’all that I work with a statewide student advocacy group called the University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments. We had our October business meeting this weekend (hence the lack of a post last night — I was busy helping dominate everyone at flip cup during the post-meeting party 0:) ) and one of our delegations had the misfortune of getting hit by a car as they were pulling out of a gas station.

Thankfully no one was injured.  The car was no longer drivable, but Enterprise got them a replacement by 6am today so they made it home on time.

Since I’m the guy in charge of the organization, I headed out to the accident scene to help make sure my folks were all squared away. The Durham police officer who reported to the scene bantered with us while filling out his report, wanting to know where I went to school. After telling him I was at the N.C. Central University School of Law, he goes “I’ve heard good things about that school. You must be on a full ride over there, eh?”

I wish :beatup:

One of the weird things about someone with my complexion picking an HBCU’s law program as their top choice is that folks tend to think the only reason you could possibly be there is for some (presumably race-based) scholarship money. But NCCU Law actually has one of the most diverse law programs in the country. And you already know my other reasons for making it my destination.

I’m not sure what the white equivalent to Dennis’s Tyrone would be, but whatever it is — I’m not that guy ;)

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Friday Drive-by #5

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 23, 2009 in Friday Drive-by

North Carolina’s schizophrenic weather decided to bless us with high-70s temperatures after a frigid week in the low-50s, so I’m currently enjoying the evening air out on the the deck finally throwing together this week’s Friday Drive-by.  Here are a handful of sites I used to kill time this past week :)

Enjoy the weekend everybody :D

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Legal Eagles study. A lot. Maybe.

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 22, 2009 in Randomness

Yesterday the good folks over at Above the Law (a must-read site for killing time in class) posted this entry on Princeton Review’s law school rankings, which was actually linked to an entry at the TaxProf Blog (which I had previously never heard of but will be adding to the must-read list) containing the underlying data.

Those of you who’ve been here before — or new folks who happened to see my new centerpiece ;) — know that I’m a proud Legal Eagle of the N.C. Central University School of Law, which shows up as the #11 most-studious campus on the list. So my curiosity was piqued and I poked around a little bit more.

The TaxProf’s archived Princeton Review data indicates students at lower-ranked schools study harder, which on its face (if accurate) validates my opinions on the frivolity of law school rankings and the public service provided by T4 law schools.

But then I noticed the NCCU School of Law was ranked dead last for study hours on that 2007 list. And it was ranked second-to-last in the 2008 list too.

That low ranking in turn reminded me of this summer’s lower-than-normal bar passage rate for first-time testers at my school.  Historically we outperform the state average by a pretty sizable margin (a large reason why the NCCU School of Law was ranked #1 Best Value in the country for 2 years in a row). But the folks taking the bar this past summer actually fell short of the state average by about half a percentage point.

Which leads me to a few questions: (1) are the aggregate survey responses used by the Princeton Review an accurate reflection of study hours for Legal Eagles? (2) were NCCU’s hours pre-2007 just as low, or were those 2 years an anomaly? and (3) if an anomaly, were responses for those years dominated by the same class of students who ultimately went on to underperform their predecessors on the bar exam this summer?

Not sure if any of those questions can be answered accurately.  But I do know this — when the July 2012 bar exam rolls around, I refuse to be a factor if we fall short ;)

Off to study for a quiz in LRA tomorrow morning. Have a good night everybody :D

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That’s just bananas!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 21, 2009 in The 1L Life

Did the MythBusters lie to me?

We’ve been covering negligence in Torts, and the section on proof starts out with a sextet of slip-and-fall cases. What do the folks in the first 3 cases slip and fall on?

A banana peel. :surprised:

Seriously.

For some reason I thought people slipping on bananas were a comedic device.  But from Goddard v. Boston & Maine RR Co. (179 Mass. 52) (no liability since no evidence Defendant could have known banana peel on the floor) to Anjou v. Boston Elevated Railway Co. (208 Mass. 273) (liability since condition of banana indicated it was there long enough that Defendant should have known its presence) to Joye v. Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. (405 F.2d 464) (remanded since jury could not determine how long banana had been on floor based on evidence presented), not only do these banana cases apparently happen in real life — they’re actually cited by one of the widest-used Torts textbooks. :crack:

And that’s no monkey business…1

  1. Thanks for indulging me with the puns :* []

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